July 10, 2009 12:00 AM

The So You Think You Can Dance top 12 performance week is never easy, maybe even harder than the final one, because after more than a month of grueling performances the judges have the unfortunate task of closing the door one more time on two budding dancers, who this time have made so close to the coveted Top 10 as well as a spot headlining the summer tour.

And after giving it their all five weeks in a row, Caitlin Kinney, the contemporary dancer from Annapolis, Md., and Phillip Chbeeb, the only B-boy left this season, were sadly the last two victims of the judges’ difficult decision, as it now falls on America alone to decide who will go and who will stay.

“It was just the clearest choice and we were all unanimous,” Tyce Diorio put it very simply backstage when explaining the judges’ choice.

Before dancing, Nigel Lythgoe reminded the contestants that even though the judges “take into account everything they have ever seen these dancers do right from the beginning,” a great solo can still change their minds and save them. That said, all the bottom three couples — Caitlin and Jason, Phillip and Jeanine, and Ade and Melissa — brought it like never before. Ade was a standout, making sure he wasn’t going anywhere by giving what could possibly be one of the best solos to date on this show.

But, sadly, even after super solid solos, it just wasn’t enough for Caitlin and Phillip to change their inevitable fates, as it was time for them to say goodbye. But it wasn’t all bad news, as executive producer Lythgoe, who also celebrated his 60th birthday, announced later that they had both secured a spot on this summer’s tour!

Before the elimination started, audiences got to see the amazing 12 dance together one final time in an imaginative and powerful Public Enemy-inspired piece choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo set to “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Kelly Rowland and DJ David Guetta also gave a grooving performance of their new hit single, “When Love Takes Over.”

Meanwhile, backstage the judges were all in agreement that even though Randi and Evan and Kupono and Kayla, who have been faltering lately, avoided a different fate altogether by staying out of the bottom three due to their ongoing popularity, there was still a long proving ground for everyone in the days to come.

“Hopefully, the top 10 will give America a reason to vote for them, because they are not stars yet — they haven’t popped,” Lythgoe explained, adding, “I think they’ve got the talent to do so, we’ve just got to watch now. It’s a bit like waiting for your corn to pop and I’m still waiting for a couple to come through.” — Jed DrebenFOX

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